The Storytelling Framework in Branding

The Storytelling Framework in Branding

Storytelling is as old as language itself. In fact, it’s older because the first human species used to tell stories on cave walls with pictures.

Storytelling has been a primary method of transferring information from generation to generation for millions of years.

It’s been a huge part of our evolution as a species and storytelling becomes part of our DNA on the chemical functions of our brains.

Although the methods for how we tell stories has changed over the years, the desire to hear and tell stories remains unchanged and still plays an important role in our daily lives.

We absolutely love a good story, as people when we hear a story, We focus our attention because we have this innate desire to want to know what happens.

In his book The Storytelling Animal, Jonathan Gottschall says,

“We are as a species addicted to story even when the body goes to sleep.”

The mind stays up all night telling itself stories, of course would add too much explanation on it.

We can figure out why we love stories?

Stories allow us to see into the past.

We hear the triumphs of the winners and the trials of the losers. These teachings allow us to understand, learn and evolve.

But there’s so much more scientific explanation than that as well in storytelling.

“When we hear a story we look for ourselves in it.”

If we find ourselves, then the story has resonated with us and our brain produces increased levels of a chemical called Oxytocin.

Oxytocin is a chemical that increases our feelings of trust and empathy. It motivates cooperation with others by enhancing our empathy and our ability to experience the emotions of other people.

Unsurprisingly it’s referred to as the love hormone and that’s what we feel when we hear a good story.

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In recent years advancements in science have identified an event called neural coupling, which explains our affinity with the storytelling from a much more scientific perspective.

There’s a TED talk by Uri Hasson, It’s called This Is Your Brain on communication which outlines our ability to transmit our brain patterns associated with memories and ideas into another person’s brain through story through series of brain scans and tests.

Stories activates a much deeper part of the brain.

Scientists learn that story activates a much deeper part of the brain than simple fact sharing.

The levels of communication are increased and synchronized brain activity leads to enhanced understanding and memory.

They also learn that these stories could then be transmitted from the listener to another person that didn’t hear the original story to produce a nearly identical pattern in the brain which highlights our ability to transmit memories and knowledge from person to person.

Although we all know that we love a good story, science has made some huge leaps in uncovering why in recent years. And as much as all of this is fascinating it doesn’t really pull on the heartstrings enough for such a topic.

We love stories because of the emotional journeys that they take us on. We see ourselves in the characters of this story and we develop feelings towards them.

We’re sad when they feel pain or happiness when they feel joy. We follow their journey as if it’s our own.

“People don’t want information.”

They want to be taken on a journey and a few can craft a journey that resonates with your audience. Then your journey becomes part of their journey.

Remember, you should articulate your storytelling in such a way that it should carry your listener along with your story.

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So, how to come out with an effective brand storytelling strategy?

Before we dive into the nitty gritty of brand storytelling let’s first reflect on your core message.

You developed your core message with both your primary inner core message and your secondary outer core message.

The elements that make up your core message are what we call message blocks.

Your differentiator key message is a primary message block while your values key message is a secondary message block.

These blocks hold the contents of your storytelling and we fill in the details of our story with the content and ideas from those message blocks.

Your core message is crafted from the fabric of your brand. So it shouldn’t change that much.

However the details or structure of that story may change as you evolve.

Your story is your method of delivery

It’s important to remember though your core message is what you want your audience to understand about your brand, while “your story is your method of delivery.” and you should also understand your audience with neuroscience marketing techniques.

OK, so you have this core message structure and you have this storytelling framework.

But how do you use them in the context of your brand?

Well, there are two main characters in our story which you’ve developed in building your brand.

They are your audience persona who plays the hero and your brand persona who plays the guide.

You have deep insights into these characteristics which will help you in developing the storytelling and the storytelling in turn brings more tonnage ability to the life of the personas.

Then you have your core message made up of your primary and your secondary message blocks which is the detail of the story that you actually want to tell.

Yes you’re telling the story of transformation but within that story will be multiple key messages that tie directly back into what you want your audience to understand about your brand which is the definition of your core message.

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Just as your core message is made up of message blocks. Your story is made up of story blocks which are the pillars of your brand’s story.

Each story block refer to your personas and the message blocks within your core message and begin to build a narrative around those pieces.

The focus here is on the audience persona who is the hero and the world that they live in as well which ties into the audience’s message block.

Let’s create a story by writing a copy

We have an excellent starting point. We can write about what they do for work, the car that they drive, what they do for fun.

If they have kids what they do on the weekends what their passions and beliefs are.

We can then think forward to where the hero might meet the guide and focus the detail of the existing world around that environment.

For example if you’re a guide who is your brand offers accounting services.

The large focus of your story could be around your audience’s work-life which can set the tone for the next story block which is the obstacle.

Now when you sit down to write your copy for the first time you might get a bit of a knot in your stomach.

If you’re not used to it and the reason for this is blank page syndrome which is kind of like the feeling that you get when you’re in the deep end or you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

But don’t worry it’s perfectly okay, but just know that the more you think about it, the more that feeling grows.

So it’s best just to get stuck into the content.

Let’s start by writing down what you want to say first, before refining how you want to say it and allow yourself.

In fact force yourself to write as ugly as possible by writing only and saying what you want to say for each of the story blocks you’ll have the first draft.

However, ugly it might be of your brand story then slowly go back and make each story block a little less ugly by moving some of the words around replacing others and elaborating here and there.

By the end of the second round, your story should look a little less ugly.

Go back through your story a few more times making each story block a little less ugly.

Elaborating here and there by the fourth round you might find that what you have is not an ugly collection of words but an actual story with a strong foundation and structure.

It’s important to remember at this point that, this isn’t something that you’re going to stand up on stage and read aloud the end product will be your paperback version and unless you decide to publish it on your Web site for the most part it will act as a guide that directs your storytelling.

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